This is my favourite winter blend and helps keep me and my family healthy through the colder months.
Chop 3 large slices of fresh ginger root and fresh turmeric root. Add 1 star anise, 3 cardamon pods, 1 clove, and 3 black peppercorns. Boil in a medium sized pan full with water for at least 20 mins. Strain and drink. Re-use plant material for another 2 boils throughout day, especially if under the weather or save for re-brewing the following day.
Turmeric root is available from many Asian shops, via the Abel and Cole food delivery service and at some supermarkets.
You can read a little more about some of the healing herbs and spices included in this blend in a guest blog I wrote for my eleven year old inspiring friend Gracie Chick’s website.
The yellow pigment curcumin (one of three key chemical constituents called curcuminoids) of is a key active component. It has been extensively investigated and possesses a promiscuous pharmacology, demonstrating interaction with a wide range of biochemical pathways. Strong anti-inflammatory effects have been proven as curcumin is a dual inhibitor of Arachidonic acid metabolism (pro-inflammatory agent) among other such effects. It is strongly anti-oxidant, favourably influences cardiovascular function, antimicrobial (esp when used topically) and inhibits carcinogenesis and tumour promotion. There is also evidence to show the effects of tissue protection including neuroprotective (brain) and hepatoprotective (liver) activity.
As is often the way with scientific investigations, the majority of studies have examined the isolated active component curcumin rather than the whole plant. Many herbalists find this frustrating as the plants are so complex and often all the various components work synergistically together creating the perfect balance. It is more beneficial for the pharmaceutical companies to focus on one constituent as then they can patent this into a new drug, yet it is often more beneficial for the human/animal to actually take the whole plant extract, often reducing potential side effects due to the often un-known marvellous mysteries of plants healing properties.
There has however been several helpful studies to show that adding black peppercorns or long pepper to turmeric greatly increases the absorption rate by as much as 200%. The bioavailability of curcumin being so poor due to low absorption, rapid metabolism and rapid systemic elimination. I would like to research further the comparison between the bioavailability of curcumin alone and then with the turmeric taken whole.
High doses greater than 15g/day should not be prescribed long-term or concomitantly with antiplatelet or anticoagulant medication; turmeric may potentiate the effects of these medications. Care should be exercised with woman wanting to conceive and patients complaining of hair loss. Give a 50% diluted (with water) version of this to Children not the full dose.
Turmeric is however perfectly safe to take in low doses such as this tea blend for 2nd trimester onwards and when lactating (it will promote lactation).
Ginger has carminative, antiemetic, peripheral circulatory stimulant, spasmolytic, anti-inflammatory, antiplatelet, diaphoretic and digestive stimulant actions.
Two of ginger’s main components zingiberene and beta-sesquiphellandrene are highest in fresh ginger and decompose on drying and storage. For treatment of the common cold it is certainly preferable to use the fresh rhizome.
Ginger can be used to reduce arthritic pain, nausea and vomiting and to stimulate circulatory activity. You can use between 500 to 1000mg of fresh rhizome up to 3 times a day.
A few lesser known ginger facts; Some of the minor pungent components of ginger have been shown to have antifungal activity plus mild growth inhibitor of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria to include common cases of E.coli, Salmonella, Staphylococcus aureas and Streptococuss viridans. The radioprotective activity of ginger extract has been demonstrated in vivo in several studies, however it was administered by intraperitoneal injection.
There is a suggestion that ginger is one of a number of hot spices that increase bioavailability of other drugs, either by increasing their absorption rate from the gastrointestinal tract or by protecting the drug from being metabolised/oxidised in the liver. This means that concurrent administration of ginger and other hot spices, might increase the activity of other medication. There is a theoretical possibility that ginger may increase the chance of bleeding esp when combined with anticoagulants. The best practice is to keep ginger levels relatively low when there is a risk of bleeding, below 2g/day. In the case of anticoagulant medication, close monitoring for danger signs and changes in coagulation parameters.